The Going Price of Power

In this update: 1. Stories abound of political sticker shock 2. Democracy Campaign advice taken on new e-filing rule 3. Obama pushed to keep campaign reform promises The Going Price of Power 

Email date: 7/15/09

In this update:
1. Stories abound of political sticker shock
2. Democracy Campaign advice taken on new e-filing rule
3. Obama pushed to keep campaign reform promises

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Growing price of political power grabs attention
Stories about the growing influence of money in politics and commentaries lamenting big money’s pull were everywhere to be found in recent days. In an editorial published earlier this week, the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram said "check-writing has poisoned the political climate in Madison." The editorial’s headline has the word "donations" in quotations, a perhaps inadvertent but yet telling commentary on how campaign contributions are increasingly seen.

The editorial followed a news story in the Leader-Telegram and similar coverage in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. All came in response to a report issued by the Democracy Campaign last week.

News coverage of the national debate on health care in Washington also focused heavily on the influence of special interest lobbying and campaign giving. If you didn’t get a chance to see Bill Moyers Journal over the weekend, you can view all of the program’s segments here. National Public Radio also aired an outstanding series entitled "Dollar Politics." More about that series can be found here.

In a commentary posted on wisdc.org this week, the Democracy Campaign’s director concludes that "power, at its current price, costs too much." To see what he means, go here.

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GAB takes Democracy Campaign advice on e-filing
The state Government Accountability Board has advanced an updated rule to the Legislature spelling out what candidates for state office must do to be in compliance with the Citizens Right to Know law requiring electronic disclosure of campaign finances. The board’s staff wanted to require that candidates with significant campaign activity file reports of their fundraising and spending exclusively in an electronic format using the GAB’s new online reporting system. The Democracy Campaign expressed concern about the reliability and accuracy of the new system, and urged the board to also require a paper backup that can be used to verify the figures reported online. In fashioning the new rule, the board took WDC’s advice and required both online reporting as well as the submission of a paper report detailing campaign activity.

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Midwest groups push Obama to keep campaign promises
Shortly after the New York Times published an editorial headlined "Promises to Keep," the Midwest Democracy Network issued a statement calling President Obama to account for pledges he made in response to a questionnaire the network sent to presidential candidates during the 2008 campaign.

The Midwest Democracy Network is an alliance of state-based groups in five Great Lakes states that partners with national reform advocates and academic institutions. The Democracy Campaign is a founding member and serves on the network’s five-member steering committee.